In this unusual work Kayyali depicts a seller of prayer-beads. Usually found in the midst of the market street, this bead-seller appears to exude an aura of silence, calmness, and meditation. His pose is relaxed, his eyes closed to the world, he is deep in contemplation but at the same time spreading a sense of peace to his surroundings.
Tasbihi, the action of praying while counting the prayer beads, is a longstanding custom in Arab societies. Certain words of worship are whispered and repeated while counting the beads. This spiritual communication is private but manifested publicly, and at every moment of the day.
Bead rolls or rosaries can be made simply from knots on string, to the most elaborate forms using gold chains, with gold, silver, or gemstones beads like amber and turquoise. Some are made with rosewood beads, which are warmest to the touch, developing a patina with age and wear and keeping the hand of the Mussabeh (he who uses the Tasbih) scented with a fresh scent.
Often trays are offered with rosaries, both at joyful and at mournful occasions, inviting visitors to share their prayers in silence.